Driving Disqualification for Repeated Offences (‘Totter Offences’)

If a driver incurs 12 or more penalty points on their licence within a three-year period, a minimum period of disqualification must be imposed. This is also known as a ‘totting up disqualification’ and is governed by Section 35 of the  Road Traffic Offenders Act (RTOA) 1988.

There are statutory minimum disqualification periods depending on whether a driver has had a previous disqualification. The Court will consider the circumstances of the offence and take into account any mitigating grounds.

A defendant may assert that a disqualification would cause them to suffer exceptional hardship. The Court must be satisfied that the penalty is not merely inconvenient, but exceptional in the circumstances. A defendant must have evidence that the disqualification would cause unreasonable suffering, either to the defendant or to people they care for. For example, if a defendant would be unable to drive elderly or vulnerable family relatives to hospital, or provide essential community services as a result of being unable to use a car. Equally, if a driving ban would cause the defendant and any employees to lose their jobs and livelihoods, the court may consider the disqualification to cause exceptional hardship and alter the penalty accordingly.

There are other special reasons that the Court may consider when deciding whether a disqualification is reasonable and proportionate. Special reasons can apply to most road traffic offences, but the most common are as follows:

  • dangerous or careless driving;
  • speeding;
  • driving whilst using a mobile telephone;
  • drink-driving or failing to provide a laboratory specimen (breath, urine or blood);
  • driving without insurance;
  • permitting someone to drive without insurance;
  • driving without a licence or whilst disqualified.

Special reasons are very limited but may include a defence of speeding due to an emergency or driving whilst unaware that the car was not insured as a result of having been misled by the insurance company.

Our specialist motoring law solicitors at Nicholls & Nicholls are able to advise on how to address a potential driving disqualification and whether your circumstance would warrant a shorter ban or alternative penalty.

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